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John le Carre's Quotes

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Born: 1931-10-19
Profession: Writer
Nation: English
Biography of John le Carre

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I don't think it is given to any of us to be impertinent to great religions with impunity.

Tags: Great, Impunity, Religions

I grew up in a completely bookless household. It was my father's boast that he had never read a book from end to end.

Tags: Book, End, Father

I happen to write by hand. I don't even type.

Tags: Hand, Happen, Write

I mean, I'm in the business of storytelling, not message making.

Tags: Business, Making, Mean

I think bankers will always get away with whatever they can get away with.

Tags: Away, Bankers, Whatever

I think that where I've watched a movie go wrong, it's usually because the dread committee has been interfering with it.

Tags: Committee, Movie, Wrong

I worked for MI6 in the Sixties, during the great witch-hunts, when the shared paranoia of the Cold War gripped the services.

Tags: Cold, Great, War

I'm really a library man, or second-hand book man.

Tags: Book, Library

I've always had difficulties with female characters.

Tags: Characters, Female

If there is one eternal truth of politics, it is that there are always a dozen good reasons for doing nothing.

Tags: Good, Politics, Truth

More particularly, having a largely German-oriented education has made me very responsive to 19th-century German literature.

Tags: Education, German, Literature

Thank heaven, though, one of the few mistakes I haven't made is to talk about the unwritten book.

Tags: Book, Mistakes, Talk

The Cold War was over long before it was officially declared dead.

Tags: Cold, Dead, War

The Secret Intelligence Service I knew occupied dusky suites of little rooms opposite St James's Park Tube station in London.

Tags: Knew, Secret, Service

The world of spying is my genre. My struggle is to demystify, to de-romanticise the spook world, but at the same time harness it as a good story.

Tags: Good, Struggle, Time

There are some subjects that can only be tackled in fiction.

Tags: Fiction, Subjects, Tackled

To give the best of the day to your work is most important.

Tags: Best, Give, Work

Totalitarian states killed with impunity and no one was held accountable. That didn't happen in the West.

Tags: Happen, Impunity, West

When you're my age and you see a story, you better go for it pretty quickly. I'd just like to get a few more novels under my belt.

Tags: Age, Few, Pretty

Writing is like walking in a deserted street. Out of the dust in the street you make a mud pie.

Tags: Street, Walking, Writing

You should have died when I killed you.

Tags: Died

I don't think that there are very many good writers who don't live without a sense of tension. If they haven't got one immediately available to them, then they usually manage to manufacture it in their private lives.

Tags: Good, Lives, Sense

I think I'm in the same mood as ever, but in some ways more mature. I guess you could say that, at 65, when you've seen the world shape up as I have, there are only two things you can do: laugh or kill yourself.

Tags: Laugh, Seen, Yourself
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Most people like to read about intrigue and spies. I hope to provide a metaphor for the average reader's daily life. Most of us live in a slightly conspiratorial relationship with our employer and perhaps with our marriage.

Tags: Hope, Life, Marriage

Novelists are not equipped to make a movie, in my opinion. They make their own movie when they write: they're casting, they're dressing the scene, they're working out where the energy of the scene is coming from and they're also relying tremendously on the creative imagination of the reader.

Tags: Energy, Opinion, Working

I do believe very much in movie as a one-man-show. I think that where I've watched movie go wrong, it's usually because the dread committee has been interfering with it.

Tags: Committee, Movie, Wrong

I made a series of wrong decisions about moderately recent books, and I've sold the rights to studios for ridiculous amounts of money and the films have never been made. That's the saddest thing of all, because they're locked up and no one else can make them.

Tags: Else, Money, Wrong

I taught principally German language and literature at Eton. But any master with private pupils must be prepared to teach anything they ask for. That can be as diverse as the early paintings of Salvador Dali or how bumblebees manage to fly.

Tags: Ask, Early, Language

I was quite able at the insignificant work I did in MI6, but absolutely dysfunctional in my domestic life. I had no experience of fatherhood. I had no example of marital bliss or the family unit.

Tags: Family, Life, Work

If I had to put a name to it, I would wish that all my books were entertainments. I think the first thing you've got to do is grab the reader by the ear, and make him sit down and listen. Make him laugh, make him feel. We all want to be entertained at a very high level.

Tags: Him, Laugh, Wish

In every war zone that I've been in, there has been a reality and then there has been the public perception of why the war was being fought. In every crisis, the issues have been far more complex than the public has been allowed to know.

Tags: Crisis, Reality, War

People who've had very unhappy childhoods are pretty good at inventing themselves. If nobody invents you for yourself, nothing is left but to invent yourself for others.

Tags: Good, Pretty, Yourself

Remember Graham Green's dictum that childhood is the bank balance of the writer? I think that all writers feel alienated. Most of us go back to an alienated childhood in some way or another. I know that I do.

Tags: Another, Balance, Remember

We have learned in recent years to translate almost all of political life in terms of conspiracy. And the spy novel, as never before, really, has come into its own.

Tags: Learned, Life, Political

We lie to one another every day, in the sweetest way, often unconsciously. We dress ourselves and compose ourselves in order to present ourselves to one another.

Tags: Another, Lie, Often

Well, certainly I don't think that there are very many good writers who don't live without a sense of tension. If they haven't got one immediately available to them, then they usually manage to manufacture it in their private lives.

Tags: Good, Lives, Sense

You have no idea how humiliating it was, as a boy, to suddenly have all your clothes, your toys, snatched by the bailiff. I mean we were a middle-class family, it's not as if it was happening up and down the street. It made me ashamed, I felt dirty.

Tags: Family, Idea, Mean

Love is whatever you can still betray. Betrayal can only happen if you love.

Tags: Betrayal, Happen, Love

A desk is a dangerous place from which to view the world.

Tags: Dangerous, Place, View

It's part of a writer's profession, as it's part of a spy's profession, to prey on the community to which he's attached, to take away information - often in secret - and to translate that into intelligence for his masters, whether it's his readership or his spy masters. And I think that both professions are perhaps rather lonely.

Tags: Away, Lonely, Rather

Until we have a better relationship between private performance and the public truth, as was demonstrated with Watergate, we as the public are absolutely right to remain suspicious, contemptuous even, of the secrecy and the misinformation which is the digest of our news.

Tags: Between, Truth, Until

History keeps her secrets longer than most of us. But she has one secret that I will reveal to you tonight in the greatest confidence. Sometimes there are no winners at all. And sometimes nobody needs to lose.

Tags: Confidence, Greatest, History

A committee is an animal with four back legs.

Tags: Animal, Four, Legs

My definition of a decent society is one that first of all takes care of its losers, and protects its weak.

Tags: Care, Losers, Society

A spy, like a writer, lives outside the mainstream population. He steals his experience through bribes and reconstructs it.

Tags: Experience, Lives, Writer

Americans believe that if you know something, you should do something about it.

Tags: Between, Lies, Real

Once you've lived the inside-out world of espionage, you never shed it. It's a mentality, a double standard of existence.

Tags: Existence, Lived, Once

In the last 15 or 20 years, I've watched the British press simply go to hell. There seems to be no limit, no depths to which the tabloids won't sink. I don't know who these people are but they're little pigs.

Tags: Hell, Last, Won

The longing we have to communicate cleanly and directly with people is always obstructed by qualifications and often with concern about how our messages will be received.

Tags: Concern, Longing, Often

The monsters of our childhood do not fade away, neither are they ever wholly monstrous. But neither, in my experience, do we ever reach a plane of detachment regarding our parents, however wise and old we may become. To pretend otherwise is to cheat.

Tags: Experience, Parents, Wise

America has entered one of its periods of historic madness, but this is the worst I can remember.

Tags: America, Remember, Worst

But there is a big difference in working for the West and working for a totalitarian state.

Tags: Big, State, Working

By the age of 9 or 10, I knew that I had to cut my own cloth and make my own way.

Tags: Age, Cut, Knew

Completing a book, it's a little like having a baby.

Tags: Baby, Book, Completing

During the Cold War, we lived in coded times when it wasn't easy and there were shades of grey and ambiguity.

Tags: Easy, Times, War

Every writer knows he is spurious; every fiction writer would rather be credible than authentic.

Tags: Knows, Rather, Writer

Fools, most linguists. Damn all to say in one language, so they learn another and say damn all in that.

Tags: Another, Language, Learn

For better or worse, I've been involved in the description of political conflict.

Tags: Involved, Political, Worse

Having your book turned into a movie is like seeing your oxen turned into bouillon cubes.

Tags: Book, Movie, Seeing

I am still making order out of chaos by reinvention.

Tags: Chaos, Making, Order

I don't know whether it's age or maturity, but I certainly find myself committed more and more to the looser forms of Western democracy at any price.

Tags: Age, Democracy, Maturity
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